Singapore executes two more drug traffickers despite protests

Singapore hanged two drug dealers on Thursday, in what campaigners denounced as a “shameful and inhuman punishment”, bringing the number of executions in the city-state to four since March.

The latest executions came after the hanging of a mentally handicapped man in April sparked international outrage, with the European Union and the United Nations among those who opposed it.

Singapore has some of the world’s toughest drug laws and insists that the death penalty remains an effective deterrent to human trafficking despite growing pressure to abolish it.

On Thursday, Kalwant Singh, a 31-year-old resident of neighboring Malaysia, and a 48-year-old Singaporean, Norashari Ghous, were executed, the prison department said.

Kalvant’s remains were brought to Malaysia by his family on Thursday afternoon, prominent Singaporean human rights activist Kirsten Khan said.

Amnesty International has said that Singapore’s use of the death penalty is a “blatant violation of human rights”.

“We call on the Singaporean authorities to immediately stop this latest wave of hangings and impose a moratorium on executions as a step towards ending this shameful and inhuman punishment,” said Emerlyn Gil of the organization.

Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, added that Singapore violates international human rights standards that prohibit “cruel” punishment.

Recent drug arrests in the city-state “show how groundless Singapore’s claims are about the supposed ‘chilling’ effect of these brutal executions,” he said.

Kalvant and Norashari were convicted in 2016 of heroin trafficking in the same case.

On Wednesday, a Malaysian citizen filed a final appeal, and his lawyers said he provided information that helped authorities arrest a key drug trafficking suspect.

But a three-judge panel dismissed the appeal, saying law enforcement officials did not use the information provided to them to arrest the suspect.

After more than a two-year hiatus, the city-state resumed executions in March when a Singaporean drug dealer was hanged, and activists fear there will be more executions in the coming months.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Interior and Justice Minister K. Shanmugam defended Singapore’s stance on the death penalty, saying there was “clear evidence that it is a major deterrent to would-be drug traffickers.”